Non-binary model Ayesha Tan-Jones protested Gucci’s use of straitjackets during her walk on the runway during Milan Fashion Week.
I chose to protest the Gucci S/S/ 2020 runway show as I believe, as many of my fellow models do, that the stigma around mental health must end.
As an artist and model who has experienced my own struggles with mental health, as well as family members and loved ones who have been affected by depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia, it is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment.
The model described straitjackets as representative of “a cruel time” from an era in which mental illness was not understood. “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straitjackets and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat,” Tan-Jones said.
“Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.”
Gucci has responded with an Instagram statement of their own, describing the use of straitjackets as part of a statement on “uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straitjackets” which once served “as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it.”
The company has assured onlookers that these decisions were part of a “performance” about “the journey from conformity to freedom and creativity.”
This is not the first time Gucci has been publicly criticized for controversial fashion choices. After a poorly-received turban mimicking the Sikh “dastar” was featured on a model last winter, the famous fashion brand was called out for selling a rather on-the-nose “Indy Full Head Wrap” through Nordstrom’s.